With breathtaking scenery, a rich indigenous culture and enough adrenaline rushes to thrill even the hardiest adventure seeker, New Zealand offers an experience like no other. Located off the southeast coast of Australia, it is home to a population of four million people—and about 40 million sheep! And it has tons of beauty to explore. Thanks to its amazing landscape of mountains, volcanoes, black sand beaches and lush farm fields, New Zealand is often the shooting location for major Hollywood films, such as The Lord of the Rings series. Whether you’re after action sports or just in search of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, you’ll likely find what you’re dreaming of in New Zealand.
Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
Government: Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
DID YOU KNOW?
- In 1893 New Zealand was the first major nation to allow both male and female citizens to vote.
- New Zealand was once home to the Moa—one of the largest birds in history, standing 12 feet tall and weighing 500 pounds! The Moa were hunted to extinction by the end of the 1500s.
- New Zealand was the first country to have its top three positions of power held simultaneously by women (Prime Minister, Governor General and Chief Justice).
- There are about nine sheep to every one human in New Zealand.
- Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Mount Everest, was a New Zealander. His face is now immortalized on the New Zealand $5 bill.
New Zealand’s climate is dominated by its two main geographical features: the mountains and the sea. Which means that despite mostly mild temperatures, there can be a drastic range depending where in the country you are. In summer, coastal areas may experience subtropical temperatures, while inland mountainous terrain can drop to below 0 degrees Celsius. New Zealand’s weather can also change unexpectedly. Be prepared for sudden changes while hiking or participating in other outdoor activities.
- Spring: September – November
- Summer: December – February
- Autumn: March – May
- Winter: June – August
New Zealand was one of the last major landmasses to be settled by humans, and it’s estimated that it wasn’t settled until around 1250 or 1300 CE. The first population to settle in New Zealand was the Maori, who arrived from eastern Polynesia and brought with them cultural traditions of art, tattoo and dance. The last known full-blooded Maori died in 1933, however the culture and traditions continue to live on for many of New Zealand’s people. In 1907, New Zealand declared itself a Dominion within the British Empire and in 1947 became part of the Commonwealth. New Zealand was involved in both World Wars fighting alongside the British Empire.